Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I'm not a person who makes resolutions at the new year, chiefly because I tend to forget all about them pretty quickly, either that or try and fail (dieting), making me feel terrible. But there are two things I'm going to really work on this year. One is using what I already have instead of buying more. This includes art materials, clothing, food in the pantry/refrigerator, etc. The other is, instead of worrying about people and situations or complaining to those people or about those situations (neither of which does any good) I'm going to take God at his word and bring those things to him in prayer. If I say I trust God but can't do that, my faith isn't worth much.

I worked at the VAAM Gallery yesterday in place of a woman who needed the day off, so I made it a studio day as usual. I'm getting quite a lot done on my commissioned piece and will return soon with photos.

I hope you all have fun tonight however you choose to celebrate, and best wishes for a very happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

that "after christmas" feeling

We had a really nice Christmas. On Christmas Eve, after a lovely service at church, my parents came over for supper (beef burgundy, salad, hot bread) and we enjoyed the evening. Afterward, I stuffed the stockings early when no one was looking and turned the lights out so nobody bothered about them, then I went to bed. Didn't open my eyes until 8 a.m. I was amazed! I got this little gem from my hubby:

I never wanted an MP3 player until I figured out you can download audiobooks to them. I haven't done it yet but I will, never fear. I also got a couple of wonderful art books, one on mixed media and one on PMC, plus lovely bath stuff from one son, a kitchen gadget I'd been wanting from another, and my little one wrapped up an ornament he'd gotten from my mother, that we had hung on the tree when I was a child. It was quite sweet.

I'm using the week's vacation time I have between now and January 5 to finish up the commissioned piece for my good friend. I believe I have mentioned it on this blog before but I've been very behind times in completing it. I figured since I have some extended time free (or relatively, since the kids are off school) I'll be able to get it finished and delivered.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke's Gospel, Chapter 2, Verses 1-20, King James Version

Monday, December 22, 2008

frozen toes

It's cold here. Single digits. Brrr.

There are only three days to Christmas and I can't remember when I've felt less prepared for the holiday. I'm not done shopping, let alone wrapping, and I still don't know what all I'm contributing to Christmas dinner. Could it be that those things aren't as important as I've always thought them? There are 24 hours in each day, but they don't seem to go as far as they used to.

Tomorrow is our company's Christmas potluck and then our plant closes down from 12/24-1/5. I am so looking forward to it, although it is mostly an unpaid time period except for the actual holidays of Christmas and New Year's Day. I don't know if it's the short days or the extreme cold but I've been mightily disinclined to get out of bed with the alarm in the mornings lately.

We did some shopping on Saturday morning (I bought more hollow glass ornaments--I love them although I need another ornament like I need a hole in the head), then attended the wedding of the son of close friends that afternoon/evening. Yesterday was the Christmas brunch at church (lots of fun), then our new pastor and her husband hosted an open house at their new home for the congregation. Add to that continuing wedding plans, and I guess I've been busier than I realized.

I hope you all can take the time during this busy season to slow down and appreciate the beauty of Christmas, and to remember what it's really all about.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

looong silence

Hello all.

I really am here despite the lapse in posting. We're busy with Christmas preparations, extra church goings-on, and school programs.
Our oldest son Adam and his fiancee Emily, who had not yet set a date, came to us recently and said that February 12 will be the big day. Ever since we've been rather awash in wedding preparations. Although they want a very small private wedding it still requires a certain amount of forethought. They've asked for my help in planning this event, which pleases me, but I'm trying to go softly and not impose my will on them. So far we've accomplished the following:
One bridal gown, to be accented with a thin red silk ribbon around the lower edge of the bodice
One tuxedo, except with this vest:
Wedding cake.

And a partridge in a pear tree. They've obviously chosen red as their wedding color so Emily's thinking about possibly red lilies for her bouquet. Although the wedding will be just for family and close friends they will have a reception a day or two later and invite a wider group of people. I must say, small weddings and a couple who doesn't have a lot of high-falutin' ideas certainly make for a less expensive proposition. And they're getting just what they want, besides.

Hope all is well with my readers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

good news

My mother went for her oncologist visit yesterday and found out a couple of pretty important things. First, she is BRCA 1 & 2 negative, which means she does NOT have the kind of cancer that arises from a genetic mutation, so none of her kids/grandkids can have inherited that mutant gene. Second, she does not have to begin her chemotherapy until after Christmas, which is rather important to her and to the family as a whole. She wasn't looking forward to feeling horrible with the family around at the holiday. When she does start chemo, she'll have it once every two weeks for four months. We are all rejoicing with Mom in this good news. It makes this season of Thanksgiving and Advent even more meaningful.

Since I don't like to post without photos, here are some previously posted pieces. This is a postcard I made for a swap. It is much like a piece by Beryl Taylor, whose work I admire a lot.

This piece and the next one were part of the show that traveled to Lincoln, KS and are currently on exhibit at the VAAM Gallery. This is made of paper, fabric, and metal.

This is one of my personal favorite pieces. It's probably 3 x 2 feet and is essentially comprised of artist's postcards stitched to a quilted black background.

I hope you are all having a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

more knifty knitting

In between all the cooking and visiting this last Thanksgiving weekend I did some knitting. These are for my four-year-old niece's Christmas gift. I didn't use a pattern, just modified my usual roll-brim hat for a child's head and knitted a simple rectangle and crocheted strap for the bag. The bag also has a little heart shaped button closure which you can just about see at the top. Did I mention she likes pink?

This is something I finished a few days ago, knit from Icelandic wool, then felted. I found the rose and leaf patterns here.

I've lined it with quilting cotton and it has a snap closure. I think it's cute. The bag is again just a simple made-up pattern, and I crocheted the straps and attached them and did the side seams before felting the bag.
It has gotten quite cold here lately, and the cats want to be in the house overnight. I nearly tripped over one of them on my way to turn lights on in the living room this morning. He just looked at me and yawned. No sympathy there.
Hope you're all having a good week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

wedding congratulations

Hearty congratulations to my youngest brother Eric and his bride Kelly, who were married last night and who will spend Thanksgiving with us tomorrow. Kelly brings three sweet boys to our family. I couldn't be more pleased to welcome them all, and I pray many, many years of happiness for Eric & Kelly.

thanksgiving blessings

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S.A. We're having the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings (and 23 relatives) at my Mom & Dad's house as we usually do. I have already made my famous sweet potato souffle and creamed onions and tonight/tomorrow will put together some peach and berry crostata (recipe here) plus sauteed green beans (yum) and this fresh green salad (minus the turkey). We've also got a bake sale fundraiser for Relay for Life here at work which I made ginger bread and pumpkin bread for, plus an office snack potluck for which I made spinach/artichoke dip in a bread bowl. I do believe I've done my share of cooking for the time being.

That being said, I want to make a list of some things I have to be thankful for:
  • faith in God who sustains my life
  • living in a free country
  • a wonderful husband and three healthy boys
  • my loving extended family
  • my mother's successful surgery and recovery
  • two new sisters-in-law, 4 new nephews and a new niece
  • a job I enjoy
  • friends who love me and put up with my foibles
  • my art, which is better than therapy
  • this blog and all the wonderful new friends it has put me in touch with

Whether you're in the US and celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow or in another part of the world that doesn't observe that particular holiday, I urge you to be mindful of your blessings. Thankfulness is always appropriate.

Monday, November 24, 2008

weekend doings

It was my Saturday to work at the VAAM Gallery, so I took things with me as usual. I finished the felted bag I'd been working on. It turned out to be a clutch. My sister helped me choose the funky button decoration. It closes with a large snap.

This is a felted bucket bag I knitted to my own pattern. I'm really impressed with how well Lion brand 100% wool yarn felts. Every bit as good as spendy wool yarn and I can get it at Wal Mart or Hobby Lobby. The color of this is "cadet blue", with a plain black handle. Can't remember what the fuzzy stuff is.

Here are some cotton and bamboo silk socks I've dyed and have for sale at the Gallery. I took a bunch in weekend before last and they were almost gone by midweek, so I had to do more. I sold a couple of pairs on Saturday, too, so they seem to be popular. The bamboo silk kind of piques people's interest because they're a very nice sock, soft and very warm, plus people like the idea that bamboo silk is a sustainable resource. It takes the dye extremely well, too.

This isn't a good photo but it shows one of my handknit acrylic scarves. This was taken in 100% natural, brilliant sunlight streaming through the window of the Gallery, which shows what kind of weather we've been having. Gorgeous, in other words.

I'm busily knitting up the sari strips into a scarf for a certain sister-in-law's Christmas gift. I'll photograph it but maybe not post until after Christmas because if she's reading this I don't want to spoil the surprise too much.
Have a great week, all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

knitting up a storm

I've made a few yarn purchases lately, on e-bay. This is a wool/silk blend. I love the colors.

This one is Icelandic wool. It's on my needles now, going to be a felted purse. It had to be pink, of course.

I was intrigued by this. It is strips of silk fabric, torn and tied together at the ends, for knitting. It is apparently waste silk that ends up on the floor in the process of making garments, etc. I like the idea of taking something left over and making something beautiful out of it. This will probably become a scarf.

I've knitted my mother a couple of chemo caps. She doesn't need them yet, her chemotherapy doesn't begin for another month. She continues to do marvelously, by the way, healing quickly and basically she's back to her routine. We will be having Thanksgiving next week at her house as usual, with about 23 people coming for dinner! I'm helping cook, so that will be fun.
Hope you're all having a wonderful week.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

and now for something completely different

I don't usually post cookery items on my blog but this was too good not to share. We had a church supper the other evening and I was casting about for something unusual with an autumn flavor. Since we were encouraged to bring recipes originating in other countries, I decided this Argentine stew in a pumpkin tureen about filled the bill in all directions. The recipe called for the stew to be made in a pot on top of the stove, then put into a hollowed out and buttered pumpkin shell (which my kind hubby did a bang up job on). The whole thing was then put in a slow oven and baked. It got a lot of attention at the dinner, I can tell you that! It was also delicious. The idea was to scoop bits of the baked pumpkin into the stew as it was being ladled out. I would definitely make this again.

Now for some craftiness. This is some luscious yarn I've been working with, 75% wool and 25% silk. I decided to try and make a felted handbag, so I knitted a rectangle....

...and then I got clever and decided to decrease at each end of each row until the knitting came to a point at the end for the bag flap. I think it worked rather well. This is the knitting after felting in a washer full of hot water with a couple pairs of slacks to agitate against the wool and help the felting process along. I will finish it with a large button closure, a felted strap, and maybe lining.

My mother, bless her heart, has done absolutely beautifully since the surgery. She's been up and around really since she came home on Tuesday, feeling a lot better than she had expected too. It has been a great blessing to have my sister around to look after Mom; the rest of us have been able to be easy in our minds knowing Mom was in very capable and loving hands. We've been out to lunch a couple of times and Mom and Sarah have been shopping--Mom looks really good, certainly not like someone who just had surgery last Monday! Again, thank you all for your kind thoughts, prayers, and concern. It really does make a difference to know you all care.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

mom update/drawing

Thank you all so much for your concern and kind words about my mother. She had her surgery yesterday, everything went very well, the initial report on the lymph nodes is that they were clear of cancer cells. She will be home later today (!) and my sister will be staying with her to help her for the first few days. We're very grateful that #1 the surgery is finished, #2 everything went well and looks good, #3 Mom gets to come home where she'll be very ably looked after by my sister (an R.N.--did I mention that part?), #4 Mom's pain seems quite manageable and she's in good spirits, eating, reading, generally taking an interest, #5 we've had so much love and support from our friends and family. My youngest brother and his girlfriend are here from KC and were able to be with Dad and my sis at the hospital as they waited through the surgery. I was planning on being at work as usual yesterday but Dylan got sick over the weekend--the first time this school year, which is remarkable for him--so I was at home yesterday.

That all being said, I completely forgot to do the drawing until today. I didn't want to wait until Dylan got home from school so I used this cool randomizer here and came up with the following result:

List Randomizer
There were 8 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
1. maureen
2. jules
3. viv
4. kate
5. bethel
6. julie m.
7. genie
8. robin
Timestamp: 2008-11-11 16:03:31 UTC

That means Maureen wins the bag, Jules wins the scarf, and Viv wins the embellished silk pillow. Congrats to you all and I'll pop them in the mail very soon. Thanks to everyone who entered. Hope you're having a good week so far.

Friday, November 7, 2008

happy friday

Nothing to report today really, but I wanted to remind you to post a comment if you want to be involved in my giveaway I talked about here.

Since I hate to post with no photos, here's one of the campus of the University of Kansas in the autumn. It's from the world of stock website, obviously.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

kansas sunrise

I had a wild idea this morning--get up early and run to McDonalds to pick up some sausage biscuits for breakfast (trust me, that's about as wild as my ideas get, but we like McDonalds breakfasts occasionally), and on the way home I was enjoying the sunrise so much I stopped and photographed it. That's a Kansas farmstead in the background, along with the ubiquitous telephone poles and an oncoming car with lights on. Oh well, you can still see the glorious colors of the sky and clouds.

I forgot to mention that this past weekend I participated in our town's Main Street holiday shopping kickoff. The Opera House and VAAM Gallery cooperated in a "Festive Holiday Market" featuring several artists' booths in the Opera House annexe and theatre lobby area plus a display of beautiful holiday table settings and other gorgeous decorations in the Opera House ballroom. It was quite well attended and as my booth was right next to the elevator I had a lot of traffic and good sales. One thing I sold was this hat which you may remember from a previous post. The young lady who bought it asked if I could make a scarf in the yarn I used for the stripes, so that's what's currently on my needles. Her sister wants a similar hat with a turquoise stripe so that will be next, followed by some chemo caps for my mother who will be needing them fairly soon. I've got some yummy yarns ordered especially for those caps.

I'm also planning to knit some wool purses to felt. More on that later.

Hope you're having a good Wednesday.

BTW, don't forget to go to yesterday's post which talks about my latest giveaway and send me a comment saying you'd like to be included in the drawing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

bag giveaway

I've been feeling awfully thankful lately, for a lot of reasons. We've been blessed, so blessed, in our family and our friends, our church, our neighborhood, the kids' schools and work situations...I could go on at length. Anyway, I want to pass on the thankful theme by giving away a few things, among them the bag I made for the fiber workshop.

This is the photo I posted when I blogged about the workshop. The bag as pictured is not completed. The finished product has a tidier strap and more embellishment, including beads and other goodies. It's not large, probably 10 inches up and down and 8 across or so. It is lined and there's a little pocket inside, and it snaps closed with one big snap.

I'm also going to give away a hand dyed silk scarf in fuchsia red and tangerine, and one of my little silk velvet painted/stamped art pillows which can be used for a pincushion I suppose, or just for a cute decoration.

All of this giveaway will occur one week from today, Tuesday November 11, Veteran's Day here in the US, which reminds me of another thing I'm grateful for--my cousin who was fighting house-to-house in Baghdad not too long ago has returned safely home and was recently married.

If you want your name included in the drawing, please leave me a blog post specifically saying so and I'll put your name in the hat.

On a more somber note, my mother has had a recurrence of breast cancer and must undergo a mastectomy in a few days, followed by 4 months of chemotherapy. The earlier cancer was 10 years ago so this was a bit of a jolt. She's doing well though and just wants to get the treatment behind her. My sister, a nurse, will be here to care for Mom post-op, which is another thing to be really, really grateful for, as is the excellent medical facility and physicians involved in the treatment. We'd all appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts in our direction.

Hope you're all doing well today.

Monday, November 3, 2008


As promised, Halloween pictures. I was certainly colorful, that's for sure.

This was my favorite part of the costume, although they were NOT comfortable. I took my crocs along because I knew I'd want to change. I was right.

My fellow costumed ghoul here is my workmate, Rob, who is dressed as the Grim Reaper. I actually made his costume, out of a black bedsheet. Looked good, though.
We had lots of little goblins at our door on Halloween night. My oldest son took my youngest and his little friend out trick-or-treating while my second son manned the candy bowl and answered the door. Both of my older boys still like to dress up--Adam went in full military kit (he's a big WWII history buff) and Chris put on a black t-shirt with fake tattoo sleeves up and down his arms. By that time I had changed into real clothes and was nursing my poor fingernails from their assault by the long purple glue on nails I'd worn all day.
All in all, quite a fun day.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

happy halloween

Here's a fun little seasonal time waster. Don't blame me if you can't quit.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

thanks, genie

Genie has graciously given me the above blog award, which carries with it the following stipulations:

Pass this award to five people, four dedicated followers plus one new follower to your blog who lives in another part of the world. Please link back to the person who gave you this award.

I've linked back to Genie already, which is the easy part.

Here are my four dedicated followers:





As for an new follower from a different part of the world, I'm choosing Jennifer who lives in Texas. Technically not from a different part of the world, but Texans are usually the first to admit that their state is a world apart.

Thanks, Genie, for the honor. I am flattered and pleased.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

autumn in the country

Last Saturday evening, after a wonderful day teaching fiber arts, my family joined several other families we're friends with on a hay ride and cookout potluck at the farm belonging to one of the families. It was a lovely evening, especially for this late in October--not too cool, no wind, clear skies. Here are some folks gathering around the fire with their camp chairs.

Doug had made a great fire pit, lined with rocks (slate, I think) from the nearby river. He had previously cut down some dying trees on his place, ash and oak, which made a wonderful fire.

This is really rustic, al fresco dining! I think that's part of a painting scaffold serving as a buffet table.

The sun about to go down behind the rock wall facing the fire pit area.

The kids played hide-and-seek in the dusk, we could hear coyotes and owls in the (not too far off) distance, and the grownups sat around the fire chatting and laughing until long after dark. It was a wonderful evening.

Hope you're all having a super Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

fiber arts workshop

The fiber arts workshop I taught was held last Saturday. It was a lot of fun, and EXHAUSTING! Here are my students and their sewing machines.

I brought along a significant portion of my fiber stash and invited the ladies to use anything they wanted for their projects. They had fun choosing their own colorways and just playing with the different elements.

We learned several techniques, including making cords, working with solvy, hot fix angelina, layering, burning/distressing, and needlefelting by hand and with an embellisher. This is Donna getting with the needlefelting tool.

I suggested using their newly-learned techniques to either make a small bag or a piece of hanging art. This is the front of Ann's little bag, showing her needlefelting.

Donna made a larger bag with the help of the embellisher. You may remember that I retooled my old sewing machine to become an embellisher because I'm too cheap to spring for a "real" embellisher, although I must say it works really well.

This is Lizzie's piece. She was the youngest participant and kept things fresh and lively. I like her color choices, shapes, and composition here.

This is my version of the small bag we made. It's not quite finished (note the pins at the top of the bag where I have yet to stitch it closed) but it's a cute pattern that I modified from here. It has a gussetted bottom that makes it seem roomier.

Teaching this workshop was a very good experience for me. The class size (5 students) seemed about right to present all the techniques I wanted the participants to learn. It was a lot of stuff packed into the five hour time frame, but everything I wanted to do got done. All of the ladies really seemed to enjoy themselves and were able to work with materials and methods they had never seen or tried before. I was asked by a couple of the women if I would be teaching another workshop at some point, which made me feel good. And the answer to that question is YES!!
Believe it or not, after this wonderful but very tiring day, I went with my family on a hay ride and cookout at a friend's farm. But that's the post for tomorrow!
Hope you are all having a great week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

overboard again

I just can't help it. I love to dress up. When I came across an old black crushed velour dress in my closet that sealed the deal on my Halloween costume. We are allowed to dress up at work, and since Halloween is on a Friday this year I decided to go all out. In addition to the aforementioned dress I will be clad in the following:

This will be festooned with purple and black netting.
I'm obviously not this dishy.

Took me a long time to find these.

And finally, the coup de grace:

Are these cool or what?!?!
And yes, I will take pictures.